Sunday, August 14, 2016

Days 9 and 10: Rio

Day 10: Rio

Do you know these Oaklanders?
Weather: Rain in the morning, UH OH! Misty through mid-morning, turning into a very pleasant day
Some talk of a taxi strike; not in our hood

It's never easy to find an official person to get help

But I give in to the rhythm and my feet follow the beat of my heart 
When my baby, when my baby smiles at me 
I go to Rio, De Janeiro 
Me salsa fellow 
When my baby smiles at me 
She shines the lanterns of my life 

Note the jackets, it's around 9am

The crowds at T&F are always late arriving, always

The beginning of tripleheaders. It could have been a quintuple, THB ended up with tickets to five events today: a combo of mis-ordering and gifting. The extra tix are re-gifted to the locals. The good news, which THB only grasps well into week 1 after roaming around Rio, is that Track and Field is at a stadium only a few train (i.e., not the metro) stops from the Volleyball arena. Easy-peasy moving between these two events!
W's 10K (25 laps)

A first for THB: 8 Personal Bests; Huddle set a area record...what area? Americas? 

Winner on left, former record holder on right

T&F is a 9 day world championships, the one that highlights athletes like no other because of the emphasis on gold medals and extensive TV coverage. There are usually two sessions a day, the morning generally starts at 9:30am, the evening around 8pm, with one or two exceptions. The way the “lottery” for tickets works, THB has no idea what his seats will end up being because ordering is done starting 16 months in advance of the O’s, in generalities by price, and tickets for the evening session are harder to get because they are more in demand.
The usual: line to pay, nobody ordering food

As usual, there are four categories: A, B, C, and D; tickets for morning sessions are cheaper than evening when comparing categories. Generally, you cannot buy top priced seats (i.e., A and B) for the evening because they sell out faster than the cheaper C and D seats.

Mr Volleyball

So, where the seats are for T&F is always a bit of a crapshoot, and this one is more bizarre than in the past. The “B” tickets for the morning sessions (so far) have turned out to be not as good as the B and C evening tickets. On both mornings, THB and DA have moved from the B area, which is very close to the field and low down to the D ticket area (think middle of the upper level in the end zone).  THB thinks that is because in the morning the organizers believe the attendees are unable to focus properly and put the “better” seats very close to the track.

{Ed. Note:  Not sure why THB is giving a lecture on buying tickets…maybe too tired to get on with the daily news? More likely THB cannot remember what happened two days ago.}
The guy next to DA is beer 4 or 5 (that we can count)

First time to the Olympic Stadium and for the first time in THB’s experience at 7 summer games, the torch is nowhere to be found (and it wasn’t in the O Park either). Turns out it is downtown, THB and DA will try and make a stand-alone trip to get the memorable photo. Our commute is perfectly normal, if long. The security at O Stadium is under-crowded, the stadium is pretty empty at the start.

{Ed. Note:  more filler}

The morning session is highlighted by what will most likely turn out to be the race of the entire meet: Ayana wins the women’s 10K in World record time, breaking the old record by 15 seconds (huge), top 4 finishers break the O record, and top 8 set personal bests.

She's still sideline

Only lead of the match for Puerto Rico

Mural in Maracana Train Station

With plenty of time before the end of the morning T&F and the afternoon VB session, DA gets us to a mall about 15-20 minutes for lunch. We pass up eating right outside the O Stadium, standing up and buying food and drink from the neighbors who are grilling hot dogs and kebabs in their front yard, passing the food through the front metal fences.

Bibi is our mall restaurant of choice (meaning we’ve walked by a bunch of mall places that are less appealing); they make salads with items you select from a large set of choices, and THB gets his salad with pretty decent grilled chicken, and we both order fresh lemonade (very good).

THB and DA walk back to the train stadium station and transition to the mid-afternoon session of  VB to see the USA women beat Italy, 3-1 (Italy’s only winning set in four matches), and the first two of sets of Netherlands crushing of Puerto Rico, 3-0.
We're on 5, the volunteer sends two old guys to elevator

Our elevator doesn't go to the top floor

Give ourselves plenty of time and are back through security for the evening T&F session, which starts late. The Race Walk medal ceremony never happens. No explanation why. Our B tickets are terrific: lower down in the upper section, directly across the field from the finishing line.
THB tried to photoshop the torch in...sorry, no-go

Dinner (no expiration date)

The practice field is behind stadium,visible from upper decks as you exit

The evening is highlighted by Michelle Carter of USA winning the shot put on her last put of the event (the second to last of the entire event), besting two-time defending champion Valerie Adams of NZL. Adams had one last put, she couldn’t get past Carter.
Commodore P: where do we put the USA training center outtakes? 

We are perfectly lined up with the finish line

Second course of dinner?

Not full
 Maybe THB should not be surprised: they play techno music during the longer races. We are on the extremely crowded train at 11:30, transfer to the very crowded metro to Copacabana, and back in the apartment around 12:45am.

Footwear on the metro

Day 10: Rio
She sat down and arranged a pick-up after the event (in English). Then she started talking on both phones (Portuguese). Then THB (politely?) said he came a long way to see the O's and would she mind taking her phone calls outside. Profuse apologies, no more calls.
Weather: Just about perfect: mid to high 60s, shirt-sleeves until 11pm

And I am free at last what a blast! 
When my baby, when my baby smiles at me 
I feel like Tarzan of the jungle 


THB is not too tired to eat his normal breakfast. THB and DA decide that 2 hours is plenty of time early on a Saturday morning to get back to T&F. Wrong! The metro is very crowded and the first train (a subway train, not a train train) sits in the station for a long time, getting even more crowded. Transfer to the train train and that train is also very crowded, slow to leave the station, and stops at every station (today, “especial” means not “espresso”).

Can see from the stadium train station that there are huge crowds waiting to get in the stadium, today security is severely backed up. We hypothesize (we have plenty of time to mull it over) that they did not open the stadium up early enough to handle the crowds and the security guys don’t care if you wait in line in the sun. THB moves ahead of DA and heads to the seats.

Again, our B seats are very low, right next to the track and a pair of Ethiopian born women who now live in Oakland (Redwood Heights) who have Steph Curry mom-crushes. After seeing the women’s steeplechase heats up close, we again move up to the D seats. From here we can see that the stadium is extremely full.
Hartung celebrating Gold
In the discus, the German makes the winning spin/throw on the second to last of the event, overtaking the Pole who has been leading the competition, both qualifying and finals, from his first throw. WOW! Two days in a row for field events coming down to the last few minutes.
The most famous athlete in the world?

She may speak English, the slots are so low and small to talk through that we have to shout at her to be heard and vice versa

After three sessions of T&F, what do two guys do? Yep, we buy more tickets to T&F, for the evening session on Monday. The ticket booth is right outside the stadium, we’re #3 in the English line (again being bumped up over a small line). We can see that the train is crushed; well, the people waiting to get to the trains are crushed.
The line is to pay, nobody waiting for actual food

Notorious terrorist sneaks back into stadium with secret weapon (and he has convinced the scanners that he keeps setting off the metal detectors because of "bad" knees)

So we go back inside the stadium to use the loo and get drinks and relax and decide if we’re going to Riocentro (next door to the O Park) for Badminton, the middle event in today’s tripleheader. Still a long while before the evening session, we’ve had first hand advice from a Brit volunteer that it can be done in about an hour by taking the train further out of town a few stops and transitioning to the express bus.
What we are trying to outwait

Step one: pay

Step two: get your receipt/coupon

What they do with the coupons: sort

What you get for your coupon: no bottle cap


Hey, it works! Takes a bit of asking and asking for directions from the volunteers, and standing the whole way, and finally we’re dropped off right in front of Riocentro. The events out here are in a convention center complex! Badminton is scheduled to start at 3:30. They don’t open the doors until after 4pm (we assume the previous session ran over). We sit and discuss whether Golf is in our future, sharing a table with two women who appear to be doing the same thing we are: what’s in the future. Golf is out; it’s another 20 minutes each way past Riocentro, between two sessions of T&F (the first runs late and the second starts early).
Bench does not go to end of table

Only one side reserved for handicapped; who "sits" on other side????

(DA gets enough by watching golf on TV Sunday morning: course is very flat, exposed, no shade.)
Inside the convention center

Brits winning (thanks JO!!)

One large set of bleachers can see 3 courts, sort of

The latest fashion in badminton

American team

Finally, the crowd has made its way into Badminton. We enter and realize that a) the first guy sent us to the wrong bleacher section, b) that there are no seat or row numbers, and c) by starting this session very late, we don’t care where we sit, we’re only here for an hour. So, we sit in the first two empty seats on the aisle and watch GBR men beat the Poles in doubles and the USA mixed lose to some Scandinavian team. THB lives across the street from a badminton club and is not surprised the USA team is American-Asia. Actually, we watch these two matches because they are on the court in front of us. In Badminton, there are three games going simultaneously: M & W singles, M&W same-sex doubles, mixed doubles. Not easy to root for your country if you’re on the side and your fellow countrypeople are playing on the far court and down low in the bleachers.
Stadium has umbrellas, not all working

THB is not the only one capable of taking naps before the action starts

Four friends: Brazil, Russian, GB, USA

Henderson goes gold on his last jump

Mo goes Gold again

The standings after 6 events was same as after 7, Nafi goes Gold

An hour is plenty, and we head back to O Stadium. Now we know right where the espresso bus stop is, right where the crowds are flowing down and back up into the train station, and right back on the train a few stops to the stadium,  early enough that the security is a breeze and we’ve got plenty of time for dinner before the evening session of T&F: water, power bar, last of bread and cheese for THB; DA goes for almonds and a beer.

Tonight we are in C seats and they are still better than the B tickets in the morning; up high and with great view of the Pole Vault.

Another awesome schedule, with the American who has announced the O’s T&F forever back at the mike for most of the session (though not the last hour). Gary is great, he makes the various events come alive and tries to keep THB focused on the big moments. It helps: there are sometimes two field events and a race going on at the same time, plus you gotta have an i-pad to figure out what the hell is going on in the heptathlon (points awarded for time and distance, not how you do versus the others in each of seven events).

Mo Farah repeats in the Men’s 10K. The crowd goes wild…well, around us the GBR types go wild. It’s not near as loud as London where the cheering for Mo in his 5K/10K double was as sustained loud cheering as THB has heard in a lifetime of attending sporting events (THB was cheered several times in the office for completing his work on time…is that the same thing?). The Women’s 100M finals is electric, with Jamaicans going 1-3 and Tori Bowie from USA in second.
THB also has ability to sleep DURING events
The last event of the evening is the 800M Heptathlon, with the top two, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Nafi Thiam, very close and Ashton Eaton’s wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, trying to hold on to Bronze. The race finishes and no results posted. Still not posted. Still not posted and announcer (only in English) says that they are trying to keep the overall standings a secret, they will post them as soon as they can. Thiam appears to have won by the congrats of the other contestants, and Eaton is wearing a flag so she got the Bronze, and by process of deduction (or is it addition by subtraction) Ennis-Hill has not repeated and settles for silver.

The Men’s Pole Vault wrapped up a few minutes before the Heptathlon’s final 800M race. It started 20+ minutes before anyone else showed up to compete, so it took 3+ hours to finish the qualifying. The fans have no idea what happened because they never posted the results. By the way, the qualifying for PV started at 17’6”. Remember when that was at least 6” higher than was needed to win Gold?

And, back for a few minutes is THB’s fave song from 2012: Ting Tings jazzy version of That’s Not My Name…yowza!!

THB and DA leave, train to metro to apartment takes long enough that it is a new Rio record: we’re in the apartment at 12:45am.

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